Inside the Yoga Industry: YAMA Talent. ~ Be Leigh

I worked the floors of Lululemon.

I have worked alongside Ava Taylor and the team at YAMA Talent. I have lived with Sadie Nardini, managed Kula Yoga and have even acted as the Operations Manager for the Bay’s own Yoga Tree. At 22, I now claim my full-time profession as a yoga instructor and prior to was studying at NYU and dipping my feet in the business of yoga’s hot and sometimes cold waters.

I have seen some of the good, the bad and even the ugly.

The glitz and the glamor is just as real as the scandalous and the treacherous. And let’s be real, the scandals surrounding yoga have been present far before Lulu or YAMA—even before Bikram. The attention, even the negative, that yoga is getting in the media and press serves as real proof that well folks—yoga is mainstream.

The popularization of yoga can be seen by the new studios that pop up on nearly every corner, the increase in festivals, conferences, “yoga” specific clothing and apparel, even viral videos that creep onto Facebook like the catchy “Yoga Girl” and in general the sky rocketing increase in yogis showing up on mats all across the globe.

The exponential growth of yoga can be attributed to its beneficial side effects such as leaner, healthier bodies, stronger minds, resilient spirits and decreased chances of flipping out on your co-workers through increased patience and the ability to just ‘keep it cool.’ But let’s be real—Coca Cola didn’t just blow up over night because it tasted good. The product was marketed well in all of its sugary diabetes cloaked goodness and was a business that took off running. And right now the yoga industry isn’t just running. It’s flying its own kite ocean side with a billion standerbys.

Lululemon gave me my first taste of the yoga business. The buzz about Lulu being a “cult” might be a bit much, but one could certainly attribute it to the similarities of your high school cheerleading team. A team of beautiful, spunky, goal-oriented and often competitive ladies (and a few men) who know their products and can cheer them on.

Working at Lulu kicked off my yoga business buffet and had me stint with Ava Taylor and YAMA Talent.

There has been a lot of foul play against YAMA, how it may be doing more harm to the yoga grid than other Anusar-ic scandals and how Taylor is in it for the green dollar and to make a pretty penny. I find the accusations and spotlight pretty humorous. Anyone who knows the challenges of teaching yoga full-time, or even operating a studio knows that though the business of yoga might be a large one in 2012, it still is not the most profitable, per yoga instructor or per yoga studio.

Yoga is a gold mine in terms of what it can offer to the subtle bodies not because it can rack in a pretty dime, but in terms of the monetary drive, imagine the agent for a big name actor who handles the brunt of the work—making phone calls, booking gigs and appearances, managing schedules, all the nitty gritty stuff—and you’ve got Ava Taylor. She works hard because she loves what she does. Working with “big name” yogis who may not make the Hollywood style paychecks but have some of the best personalities and knowledge to share with the students they teach. Like yes, Sadie Nardini and Raghunath Cappo to name a select few. The next best thing than working for yourself is working with a team of others who simply rock—and Ava has both of those fields covered.

Like a chain of yogic connections, I was able to live with Sadie Nardini for a bit and share her home.

I had never met her before and had only the impression of this before moving in. For all the negative blogging that gets done about Sadie, you would think she were satan in the flesh, yet the chick’s heart of fire is anything but evil. She is passionate about what she does, and also what she does not do as well. You will never catch her selling out for something she doesn’t believe in wholeheartedly, and that is something to be respected and admired.

The yoga “biz” certainly has a spotlight on it in today’s media world, and there are definitely some shadows alongside the praise. But maybe we should step onto our own mats and see the reflections as our own. After all, this yoga world we see isn’t just the one we live in, it is the one we are creating it to be. 

Read more:

Editor’s note: Why I pulled the YAMA op-ed by Babarazzi.

Celebrity Yogis & Anonymity.

How 70′s Porn Got this Yogini 10 Million Views on Facebook.

Spiritually athletic in nature and practice, Be finds gratitude in movement, stillness, and transition. She grew up not far from Amish Country in Pennsylvania and traded in the moo’ing cows for beeping taxis to attend NYU (grad ’11). Be lives in Brooklyn and teaches Yoga throughout New York. Spiritually athletic in nature and practice, Be finds gratitude in movement, stillness, and transition. She grew up not far from Amish Country in Pennsylvania and traded in the moo’ing cows for beeping taxis to attend NYU (grad ’11). Be lives in Brooklyn and teaches Yoga throughout New York. 







Editor: Tanya L. Markul

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Sadie Nardini May 10, 2014 5:53pm

Hi Be: I just found out about your article today–and I'm honored by your perspective. It's the one I also share from being very deeply entwined in the two people's lives you mention here;) You must now see what it's like to write or offer something from your heart, and still the haters love to judge. Luckily, there are also rational, real people willing to give you an open heart and a conscious dialogue, even if they disagree. I'm proud of you for sticking your neck out like this–and even prouder to call you a friend.

Camille Bendu Apr 2, 2012 9:37am

This is the best website for anyone who desires to find out about this topic. You notice so much its almost onerous to argue with you (not that I truly would want…HaHa). You undoubtedly put a brand new spin on a subject thats been wrote about for years. Nice stuff, simply nice!

Pro-business Mar 31, 2012 10:37pm

Leigh, this read as an unproofed & unedited self-promotion through praise association to the recently mentioned "Like a chain of yogic connections, I was able to live with Sadie Nardini…" etc. Do you mean "Through a chain of yogic connections, " or do you mean that you are a chain of yogic connections? Like "moo'ing," it' doesn't work as wordplay in the context & just distracts from the (lackof?) facts. As did comparing yoga as a product to Coca Cola which you identify as a diabetes causer. This image and connection you chose, the most vivid in your 800 words, loudly challenges on a gut level your explicit argument that the health benefits of yoga account for it's business success. Was this self-subversion intentional? And what are the cold waters of yoga? When you say "There has been a lot of foul play against YAMA," do you really mean there have been unfair acts against YAMA, or do you mean there has been criticism you think is unfair? If so, could you give examples & refute, or else why bother to bring it up, if you have nothing specific to add that hasn't been said by Sadie in her eloguent comments in past articles?

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